Bernazard Reminds Us of Another Assistant GM

1975toppsbillsingerPerhaps the most disturbing thing about the Tony Bernazard “situation” is not Bernazard’s actions, but the Mets’ feeble, wishy-washy, inactive response. They have neither stood behind their VP of Player Development, nor have they fired him, nor have they even put him on some kind of a suspension. Their response to the multiple allegations toward Bernazard is to “investigate” — as Omar Minaya told us about twenty times.

Investigate? Really? That’s it?

The Mets seem to have forgotten that they operate out of New York City — the media capital of the world. The spotlight is on, and it’s white and hot. There is no time to “investigate” in a New York Minute. You ACT — swiftly and decisively.

This recent turn of events reminds me of the “Bill Singer Incident”, which was handled (bumbled?) similarly. For those who don’t remember, that debacle occurred in November of 2003, at MLB’s “general manager meetings” in Phoenix, AZ. Ironically, Bill Singer had just been hired as “assistant to the General Manager”. During one evening at the bar, Singer got a little too drunk and made some racially insensitive remarks to Kim Ng (who at the time held a similar position in the Dodgers’ organization). The immediate response was very much like the one we heard yesterday:

“He’s still employed by us at the moment, but the matter is under organizational review,” Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz said Sunday night. “No decision has been made.”

This statement came after Singer apologized to his boss Jim Duquette, and released simultaneously with this statement from Singer:

“I am embarrassed by what I said when I met with Ng on Tuesday evening. My comments were truly inappropriate and I’m truly sorry. I have apologized to her and hope she will forgive me.”

According to the Daily News:

“That didn’t wash with Jim and it sure as hell won’t wash with [owner] Fred [Wilpon],” a Mets source told the Daily News. “Plain and simple, there’s no excuse for that kind of behavior, and there’s no saving this guy.”

The Daily News was right — all the apologies in the world weren’t going to save Bill Singer from the words uttered in a drunken stupor. He he was fired within a week.

The day Singer was relieved of his duties, the Mets released this announcement:

“As a matter of policy our organization cannot and will not tolerate any comment or conduct by an employee that suggests insensitivity or intolerance to any racial, ethnic or religious group. Any deviation from this standard is not acceptable.”

Is there really much difference between Singer’s fateful conversation with Kim Ng and the myriad activities of Tony Bernazard? Yes, in Singer’s case, the main issue was one of racial insensitivity. But it was similar to the current situation because it was also a glaring embarrassment for the entire organization. And now that the story is out there, it doesn’t matter what the Mets find out as a result of their “investigation” — the court of public opinion has already made their decision, and the rest of baseball is laughing at the three-ring circus that is the New York Mets.

In many ways, in fact, this situation is worse. Singer’s act was isolated. It was incredibly stupid and insensitive, but it didn’t really affect the team directly. And it didn’t necessarily reflect the attitude or activities of the organization. The response to Singer’s case was more, “wow, how could the Mets hire this guy? He’s an idiot”. Whereas today, there are many questionable acts linked to Bernazard. It’s not an isolated incident, but the way he regularly conducts himself. The mocking now is “wow, how could the Mets let this guy inflitrate their organization? how could they give a guy like this so much power? what has he done that we haven’t heard about? maybe this is the reason the Mets are in a shambles.”

In the end, Singer had very little impact on the Mets, and the incident in Arizona was forgotten quickly enough. Bernazard, though, has been a major factor in the organization for several years. The sooner the Mets act, the sooner they can get on the road away from mockery and disrespect. And it’s gonna take a while.

(Side note to the Singer story — one of the candidates to replace him at the time was Theo Epstein. How might that move have changed Mets history?)

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. TheDZA July 23, 2009 at 11:48 am
    Scarey…the power of Bern.
    I think we need to return to the Iron Fist days after reading that post. Somebody said earlier that if it had been the Yankees it would have been dealt with – and while it’s not in the Mets business to copy cross-town – it would been something…something to just him loose, and make a forward decision.
    If trading Church was ‘shaking it up a little’ why not shake it up ALOT and deal with the real ineptitude on this ballclub?

    Just re-read the bottom of the post about Epstein and I am now about to put my fist thru’ the screen. Mets fans one and all: I salute thee.

  2. Stephen Greene July 23, 2009 at 12:10 pm
    The Wilpons need to clean house. After loosing 2
    of 3 to the worst team in baseball its over.
    Omar, Tony and Jerry need to go. Bring some one for this season and look for a new GW to start over in the off season. Or the chokes of 2007 and
    2008 are going to start to look very good!

    If Tony got into with KRod then why does he still
    have a job?

  3. Mike July 23, 2009 at 1:51 pm
    I’m reminded of the Cashman situation a few years back where there was talk about him being fired and in the end he was asked to clean it up, and when he did as part of his new contract he demanded solidarity and to be “the boss.” I think it has worked out fairly well for him and the Yankees. Back to Omar and the Mets. I think Omar is a good GM with great assets, but I think he lacks true power and authority. Can the Wilpons just give that to him for the remainder of his contract and see where this goes? That means dumping Bernazard and giving Omar freedom to hire, fire, and make decisions the way he wants to. If he still fails then I can see firing him. But like Cashman you can’t give the guy an unmanageable situation and then judge him for failing in it. I say give him full control before firing Omar.
  4. isuzudude July 23, 2009 at 6:40 pm
    Joe, you should win an award for this article. Very well done!

    Even if the stories we’re hearing about Bernazard are embellished or fabricated (and that’s a pretty big IF at this juncture), what has he done that is job related that would entitle him to keeping his job, anyway? The farm system is in shambles, which he is responsible for. So even if based purely on merit, Bernazard STILL deserves to lose his job. He’s completely incompetent. Now the stories revolving around his temper and ego make him an incompetent a-hole. Why the Mets feel they need somebody filling that position is beyond me.

  5. joejanish July 23, 2009 at 6:53 pm
    Mike – the only thing is, Minaya was the one who hired Bernazard in the first place. Plus, Minaya worked under Phillips and therefore knew how the Mets’ front office operated (i.e., the “collegial organization”). Omar knew exactly what he was getting himself into.

    The knock on Omar was always that he couldn’t handle the “details” of the GM job — i.e., the contracts, the option rules, the paperwork, etc. The ‘zard Dog was brought in — likely out of desperation (who else did Minaya know?) — to handle that side of the business. But Tony B, obviously, was interested in much more than being a page boy.

  6. Mike July 23, 2009 at 8:26 pm
    Joe, you are right again. I was testing you (no I wasn’t).

    Well at any rate we have been down this road before and I suspect with the Wilpons in charge it will happen again. All we can hope for is one of these cycles to actually produce a champion (2006 was the year for this cycle)

  7. murph July 24, 2009 at 2:21 am
    Some say the Wilpons need to clean house.
    I say the House needs to clean Wilpons.
  8. Chris July 25, 2009 at 4:02 pm
    This organization needs to revamp its minor league system. They need to bring in people who know how to scout and develop talent. They need to start producing from their farm system. I know they produced Wright and Reyes, but with the exception of them and maybe a few pitchers (Pelfrey, Parnell) what have the produced? And honestly, I don’t think the Met coaches in the minor leagues had too much to do with their success anyway. Why did it take Reyes two years in the Major Leagues to learn how to work the count and start taking walks like a leadoff hitter should? Shouldn’t this be something that he should have worked on in the minors? I’ve been a Met fan for close to 30 years, but in a way I am glad they are having a bad season and are getting ripped apart by the media. Maybe it will cause the ownership to wake-up and start really shaking up the organization so it can start producing from its farm system. Maybe then the Mets will not have to rely so heavily on the free-agent market, and if they need to make a trade they may actually have some valuable prospects.